Examples of what does not work well in embroidery.

Greetings everyone,

This is a reprint intended for our new customers and a refresher for those of you who have been with us for a long time.  The issues presented here remain the main reasons we have to put orders on hold.  And far away the number one reason for orders going on hold is…Too much text requested in too small of a space.

This month I want to talk to you about what DOES NOT WORK well for embroidery.  Every day at Qdigitizing we are presented with orders that typically will not embroider well.  It is not that we don’t want to do the work, believe me we do.  But some designs simply are not meant for embroidery.

These fall in to 5 major categories shown below.

Too Much Lettering in Too Small a Place
– We really do get logos like this all of the time with requests to fit designs like this in areas as small as 2.5 inches.  Part of our role at Qdigitizing is to train our customers as to what will and what will not work.  While this might be an extreme example it happens all of the time.  Lettering is particularly challenging because everyone know what a letter looks like and even one stitch out of place can make a letter look wrong.  Certain substrates will accept small lettering better than others but generally speaking 4mm is the smallest Arial (sans serif) letter we can program.  Smaller than that and your machine will not form quality stitches or the holes in letters like A, B, D, O, P, Q, R, (for capital letters) a, b, d, g, o, p, q, s (for lower case) will fill in and look like blobs.

Blending – Embroidery is a solid medium and we cannot blend threads to copy the effect shown below.  Can we fake it?  Yes, but whether or not the end product will be accepted is entirely subjective and depends entirely on the expectations of the end user.  It should be understood that effects like this are meant to mimic “reflectivity.”  Embroidery thread by its nature will shine and reflect light so while this effect may be necessary in print, in embroidery this may happen all by itself.

Transparent Effects – Since thread is opaque you cannot see something that is on a layer behind the thread.  Because of that images like this are virtually impossible to emulate in embroidery.  Objects behind windows are also very difficult.

Distressed effect – Design’s like BIORUST below do not work well for embroidery.  Needle and thread do not have enough resolution to duplicate this effect.

Logo’s on hats – In general, the maximum height for a hat design is 2.25” tall.  On some machines you can push this to 2.5” but I promise you, whenever you push the extreme limits of hat embroidery you are asking for trouble in the form of damaged product and broken machines.  Designs like this are beautiful but it is not friendly to cap embroidery.  There is too much small lettering in too small of a space to allow for quality embroidery.  Qdigitizing is presented designs like this for hat embroidery all of the time and we are put in the position of being the “bad guy” because we have to say “no.”  We don’t say no because we don’t want the work.  We are saying no because we want you to be able to produce a quality product for your customer.

The question then might become, “How can we make this work?”  For this design, the answer is to delete the outer ring and small lettering.  The more inspired companies have multiple versions of their logos.  These companies have been down this path and at some point someone has explained to them why their logo will not work on a cap.  You can be the consummate professional if you can understand the limitations of the medium are and offer them options.  You should explain to the end user why the design will not work and the advantages to simplifying a design like this.  You may earn the opportunity to sell more product also.  Sell them on putting the “full logo” on something like a jacket or polo shirt but the simplified logo on a hat.  In the end you will sell a superior product.  You customer will be happier and your opportunity to earn more sales will increase dramatically.  If you dig your heels in and insist on fitting this full logo on a hat you will wind up with a substandard product and most likely a large number of damaged hats.

The only absolute I have run across in commercial embroidery is there are no absolutes.  There are ways to simulate blends and given enough room you can program a design like the ABC logo (above) to look very much like the art.  You can even find “panel programs” for embroidering large designs on to hat panels. The sewn panels are then sent to the vendor who turns the panels into finished hats.  The main point is, if you see logs like these it is in your best interest to ask us before you commit to your customer.  You will be in a much stronger position if you get in front of production issue instead of making excuses after the fact.


If you would like to ask me a specific question about commercial embroidery or embroidery digitizing please email me at service@qdigitzing.com.  I will reply directly or include your question as a future blog topic.


Thank you,


Steve Freeman
Managing partner